Herald, (fr. héraut, old fr. herault): the duties of heralds were originally of a military and diplomatic character, but in time were transferred to granting and regulating armorial bearings, investigating genealogies, and superintending public ceremonies.
From the thirteenth century there seem to have existed certain officers of arms known as Heralds and Pursuivants; the latter being noviciates and candidates for the superior offices. They were eventually incorporated by King Richard III., and received further privileges from Edward VI. Queen Mary, on July 18, 1555, gave the society Derby House, in the parish of S.Benedict, Paul's Wharf, now called Heralds' College.
The COLLEGE OF ARMS.--The corporation consists of thirteen persons, namely,
The three KINGS OF ARMS,--Garter, Clarenceux, and Norroy.
Six HERALDS, and.
Four PURSUIVANTS, whose precedence is regulated by seniority of appointment.
The Insignia of the college are:--
Argent, a cross gules between four doves, their dexter wings expanded and inverted, azure. Crest: in a ducal coronet proper, a dove rising azure. Supporters: two lions rampant gardant argent, ducally gorged or--COLLEGE OF ARMS.
KINGS OF ARMS. The principal herald of England was of old designated King of the heralds, a title which seems to have been exchanged for King of arms about the reign of Henry IV. The kings of arms at present existing in England are three; Garter, Clarenceux, and Norroy, the two latter called provincial kings of arms, besides Bath, who is not a member of the college. Scotland is placed under an officer called Lyon King of Arms, and Ireland is the province of one named Ulster King of Arms.
Garter King of arms was instituted by King Henry V. A.D. 1417, for the service of the most noble order bearing that name, which had hitherto been attended by Windsor herald. He was also made chief of the heralds, and had apartments within the castle of Windsor assigned to him. His official costume as principal king of arms of the English is a surcoat of velvet, richly embroidered with the arms of the sovereign, a crown, and a collar of SS, while the insignia belonging to the office are,--
Argent, S.George's cross; on a chief azure, a ducal coronet encircled with a garter, between a lion of England[ducally crowned] on the dexter side, and a fleur-de-lis on the sinister, all or. [Guillim, 1632.] [Formerly, 1559, a dove in the first quarter.]
Clarenceux is the second in rank of the kings of arms, and the establishment of his office has been traced to the reign of Henry V. His ancient title was Roy des armes des Clarenceux. that is of the people of Clarence, a district which comprehends the castle and town of Clare, in Suffolk, but his province is all England to the south of the Trent. Clarenceux has a crown, collar of SS., and surcoat like those worn by Garter, and the insignia of his office are,--
Argent, S.George's cross; on a chief gules, a lion of England[ducally crowned] or. [Formerly, 1595, a fleur-de-lis in the first quarter.]
Norroy is the most ancient of the three kings of arms, but the lowest in order of precedence. The name first occurs in the reign of Edward II., and the province assigned to this officer is that part of England which lies north of the river Trent, whence his title, Roy de armes des Norreys, a word used by Peter of Langtoft and other old historians in the sense of Northmen. His crown, surcoat, and collar, resemble those of the other kings. His official arms are,--
Argent, S.George's cross; on a chief[per pale azure and] gules, a lion of England[ducally crowned] between a fleur-de-lis on the dexter side, and a key, wards in chief, on the sinister, all or.
Bath king of arms, although not a member of the college, takes precedence next after Garter. His office was created in 1725 for the service of the order of the Bath, and he was constituted Gloucester king of arms(an office originally instituted by Richard III., in whose reign it also became exsinct), and principal herald of the parts of Wales. He was likewise empowered to grant arms(either alone, or jointly with Garter) to persons residing within the principality.
Lord Lyon king of arms is the chief heraldic officer for Scotland. The title is derived from the lion in the insignia of the kingdom.
Ulster king of arms has Ireland for his province. A king of arms called Ireland existed at least as early as the reign of Richard II. There is reason to believe that the succession remained uninterrupted for about a century, after which it probably became extinct. Ulster was created to supply the vacancy by Edward VI. on Candlemas day, 1551. His official arms are,--
Or, a cross gules; upon a chief of the last a lion passant guardant between a harp on the dexter side and a portcullis on the sinister, all gold.
HERALDS: there are at present six heralds, who rank according to their seniority in office. They derive their titles from certain districts, with which, however, they have no official connection. They are as follows.
Chester herald: whose office is said to have been instituted in the reign of King Edward III.
Lancaster herald: perhaps instituted by King Edward III. in the 34th year of his reign, when he created his son John of Gaunt duke of Lancaster.
Richmond herald: probably instituted by King Edward IV., in the 12th year of whose reign this herald was made Guienne king of Arms.
Somerset herald: is said to have been instituted by King Henry VII., in the 9th year of his reign.
Windsor herald: instituted by King Edward III. in the 38th year of his reign, at which time he was in France.
York herald: of the establishment of this office there does not appear to be any record.
The official costume of a herald consists of an embroidered satin surcoat of the royal arms, and a collar of SS.
There have been at different periods several other heralds, whose titles are now laid aside. Such were Falcon, first appointed by King Edward III., and Blanch sanglier by Richard III. Heralds extraordinary have also been occasionally created, as Edmondson was by the title of Mowbray, in 1764.
PURSUIVANTS: the follower or messenger attendant upon the superior officers at arms was regarded as a noviciate, and candidate for the offices of herald and king, and called the Pursuivant. There are at present four, distinguished by the names following:--
Rouge croix, generally considered to be the most ancient. The title was doubtless derived from the cross of S.George.
Portcullis, instituted by the same monarch, from one of whose badges the title was derived.
The ancient costume of the king's pursuivants was a surcoat, embroidered with the royal arms, and worn sideways, that is. with one sleeve hanging down before, and the other behind. Their tabards are of damask silk.